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Welcome to ReadTheory.org
The quickest, most intelligent way to improve K-12 reading comprehension.
Read Theory adapts to student ability to provide the perfect reading passages and questions.
Our program is completely free for an unlimited number of teacher and student users.
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How ReadTheory Works...
Watch a short video about how Read Theory can help accelerate the pace of learning in your classroom ⇒
Access over 1,000 assessments.

Sign up for free and gain access to over 1,000 interactive reading comprehension exercises. Our program teaches students to think critically, draw inferences, understand scope and global concepts, find or recall details, and infer the meanings of useful vocabulary words.

Read Theory is a powerful educational tool that offers online reading activities for all ages and ability levels. Using custom web application software and carefully crafted and tested content created by our team, we provide students with a dynamic reading experience that adapts to their individual ability levels and presents them with a seemingly endless array of skill building exercises. What is more, as students continue to use the site and see their scores gradually improve, the system adapts to match their progress, and the materials presented get incrementally more advanced. Our quizzes span the full range, beginning with elementary school reading and ending with the most demanding SAT, ACT, and GRE level reading comprehension and verbal reasoning questions.

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The passages you'll see on Read Theory are all hand crafted originals that have been written, refined, and tested by the members of our team. The Read Theory team consists of a handful of professional writers and educators, many of whom have received advanced degrees, are published authors and award winning teachers. Each of our writers has unique abilities and interests and, perhaps most importantly, a genuine belief in the ability to improve lives through education. Take a moment to get to know the faces behind the letters!


Founder, Writer, Editor

Tanner writes and edits passages for Read Theory. He also founded the website, which has its roots in the philosophy department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While studying philosophy there, Tanner discovered something he found both fascinating and empowering: the mode of critical thought. Although teachers had touched upon it in previous classes, none had come to expose its everyday usefulness and value. Tanner noticed that the ability to think critically proved beneficial not only in the philosophy classroom, but in other aspects of life as well. He thought that if all students were given the opportunity to make sound inferences, delineate nuance and focus, understand arguments, and recognize purpose and intent, then they, too, would learn to wield this powerful tool. By learning to read and think critically, students would live fuller, richer lives. And if this means they also perform better on standardized tests or compose better college essays, that's great! Tanner holds a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from the College of Charleston and has completed post baccalaureate course work in philosophy at UNC-Chapel Hill. His interests include literature, design, and philosophy. He also enjoys spending time with his wife and twin boys.


Writer, Editor

Genevieve researches, writes, and edits passages for Read Theory. Her favorite topics to write about are science and education. She holds a Bachelor's degree in English and Latin, a Master's degree in English, and a Doctorate in English. Genevieve enjoys working with and for learners of all ages: she spent eight years teaching undergraduate composition and literature at UNC Chapel Hill and two years teaching high school in Durham, NC. She has also done volunteer tutoring with adults enrolled in a GED program and "at risk" middle-school students. When she is not writing or reading, Genevieve enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter. Her favorite hobbies include cooking, watching bad movies, and playing word games.


Writer, Editor

Anne researches, composes, and edits passages for Read Theory. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned a master’s degree in teaching from Duke University. Anne began her teaching career as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nepal. She has also taught English in high schools in Los Angeles, California and most recently Durham, North Carolina, where she was a semi-finalist for the district’s Teacher of the Year contest in 2011. Anne received National Board Certification for teachers in 2011. In addition to teaching, she has facilitated workshops for teachers of world literature for the North Carolina Teacher Scholars program. Her essay, "Dying," on the violence that affected the lives of her students in Los Angeles, is forthcoming in the quarterly magazine, The American Scholar. When Anne is not writing, she enjoys spending time with her young children and husband.


Writer, Editor

Susan researches, composes, and edits passages for Read Theory. She's a novelist as well; in order of publication her books include By Accident, winner of The Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction, Now You Know, The Last of Something, Even Now, and How Close We Come, winner of The Carolina Novel Award and published in Russian and German. Susan holds a Master of Fine Arts from Warren Wilson College and a BA in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has also worked as an essay tutor (applications for MBA, med school, undergraduate), an SAT/ACT tutor, a grader for standardized reading tests, and taught numerous classes in Creative Writing. She currently holds a position as editor of Our State magazine. She is an avid gardener, hiker, Scrabble-player, traveler, and movie buff. You can find her at www.susanskelly.com.


Writer, Editor

Marcus writes analogy, antonym, and sentence completion questions, and also researches, composes, and edits passages for Read Theory. Marcus holds a BA in American Studies from the University of Minnesota and a Master's Degree in American Studies from Columbia University. He has worked as a test prep tutor (though he also tutors history, English, math, and pretty much everything but foreign languages) as well as a writer of curriculum, short fiction, and cultural criticism. When neither writing nor polishing up his standardized test preparation skills, he enjoys running, reading, and exploring Brooklyn, where he lives.


Writer, Editor, Presentation

Amanda has been working with Read Theory since 2010 and has contributed to many projects over the past few years, including everything from making crossword puzzles for elementary English vocabulary to writing and editing GRE level analogies and sentence completion exercises. She graduated Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in Linguistics and German from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has experience teaching, tutoring, writing, and editing English at a variety of levels in the United States and abroad. She has earned various awards and scholarships during her academic career, including the North Carolina Teaching Fellows scholarship and induction into the Phi Beta Kappa international honor society. She is currently living in Berlin, Germany, where she has been offered a prestigious Fulbright grant for the 2012-2013 academic year. It Amanda's sincere hope that her contributions to Read Theory help you and your students become better readers, writers, and thinkers.


Writer, Editor

Jason researches, composes, and edits passages for Read Theory. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English, a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, and a Master’s Degree in Teaching. Jason spent five years in the classroom teaching high school English to students in grades 9-12. He enjoys helping people of all ages work on their reading comprehension skills. He has written and received grants to purchase class sets of high-interest novels for his former students. In 2012, Jason received National Board Certification for Teaching. When he's not contributing to Read Theory, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Blaine, and two dogs, Viktor and Edie. They love to cuddle up with good books, drink coffee, and go to the theatre to watch movies. Most of his hobbies involve adventuring outside: running, hiking, biking, and camping. If you’re interested in tracking some of his adventures, feel free to visit his blog. You can find it at www.necessarymovement.blogspot.com.


Writer, Editor

Katherine researches, composes, and edits passages and worksheets for Read Theory. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication from the University of Minnesota, where she also minored in English and communication studies. She has worked as a writer and editor for a variety of community newspapers, industry magazines, law firms, and legal newswires. When she’s not writing or editing, she enjoys running, baking, and curling up in her Brooklyn apartment with a good book and her cat, Emmylou. She can be found at www.katherinerautenberg.com.

Achieve Common Core State Standards.

Our program meets national benchmarks and is aligned with the common core. By learning to read, write, and think critically, students are better prepared to perform well on standardized tests, go to college, and achieve success in the real world.

From anteaters to neckties, you can rest assured we're doing our best to provide students new and engaging content. That's because when a student clicks the Next Passage button, we want to engender an element of surprise. We want students to feel intrigued, and maybe even a little disoriented—like they've just opened a map of a big, beautiful city. After all, this is precisely the kind of feeling creators of standardized tests are trying to elicit. And it's certainly what students will encounter in the real world. This is the point when it's up to them to sort things out; to make sense of it all. By simulating these feelings in a controlled environment, we can teach students how to interpret them, and more importantly, how to overcome them. Instead of becoming overwhelmed, Read Theory students remain calm. They organize the passage in their mind. They make inferences as they read. They note important details or understand where they can be found should they need to retrieve them. They add new words to their vocabulary. With Read Theory, students don't just learn to read. They learn to read and think critically.

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We provide high-quality, engaging content, designed to help students develop the critical skills outlined by national benchmarks and specified by the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Per CCSS guidelines: "With students, parents, and teachers all on the same page and working together toward shared goals, we can ensure that students make progress each year and graduate from high school prepared to succeed in college, career, and life." By using Read Theory, students and teachers accomplish this goal. Below is a list of significant English Language Arts milestones outlined by CCSS and followed by the specific manner in which they are supported by use of our program.

  • An alignment with college and career expectations
  • Our grade level 1-8 materials help prepare students for state assessment exams. Our grade level 9-12 materials help prepare students for the ACT, SAT, and GRE standardized tests. All upper level materials have been designed to emulate the style and approach students will find on major tests administered in the U.S. Read Theory helps students to perform better on these tests and compose essays required by the majority of college entrance applications. The content and presentation of our upper level materials also mimics that found on the materials students will be required to tackle once they've reached the college classroom.

    In terms of life after college, Read Theory will enhance the student's ability to not only read and understand high level texts, but perhaps more importantly, to approach them critically. Our program teaches students to question what they read using the critical thinking toolkit — principles of logic they can use to quickly and easily identify sound argumentation and reasoning. This way, students will be better prepared to delineate among the diverse range of materials found in the real-world setting.
  • The ability to digest informational texts with speed and accuracy
  • Although our content covers a wide range of text types (narrative, documentary, argumentative, comparative, to name a few), the highest concentration is in informational texts. This means that when a student gets served a text, that text has the highest likelihood of being informational. According to CCSS, students today have the highest probability of encountering this type of text in their academic studies and careers. We've made careful note of this and structured our content in accordance with this idea.
  • A range of reading in terms of text complexity and subject matter
  • Our content (over 1,000 reading comprehension passages and questions) is broken down evenly across the twelve grade levels, allocating each grade level just under 100 quizzes in total. Since our program adapts to the student's performance, it is likely that the student will be served texts with a varying range of complexity. This enables the student to be exposed to a wide range of text complexity, encouraging him or her to journey away from his or her established comfort zone.

    Not only does our content cover a wide range of complexity, but it also covers a wide range of subject matter. Each quiz consists of a passage, image, and questions. Content of our reading comprehension passages includes everything from mock itineraries, imaginary movie reviews, argumentative essays, proposals, informational essays, research studies, résumés, newspaper articles, and more. At any given time, a student may find him or herself reading a request for funding study abroad to learning about the woes of password fatigue. We are continually writing more content, ensuring that it meets top quality standards, and promptly uploading it to our website.
  • A focus on locating details in a text
  • Our Research question types have been engineered for this purpose. In a research question, the reader is asked about information that is explicitly stated by the author. The answer to these questions can be directly pinpointed in the passage. Absent the ability to rely on memory alone, these questions will require the reader to reexamine the passage, or perform "research" into the origin of a question. This being the case, it is helpful to establish a mental outline of the passage while reading it. This way, the reader will have a better idea about where to look to find such details.


    "How many shells does Anna find on the beach?"

    "How much will the new addition cost?"

    "Which of the following happens first in an oxidation reaction?"
  • An understanding of underlying concepts and structure
  • Our Reasoning question types have been engineered for this purpose. In a reasoning question, the reader is asked to form his or her own conclusions regarding what is almost certainly true given information presented in the passage. This often requires the student to consider the passage, or an element of the passage, as a unified whole. The student needs to step back and look at the big picture, or general idea being conveyed. These questions typically involve summarizing information related to the author's overall purpose, focus, idea, tone, intention, or goal.


    "In paragraph 4, the author writes, "The pink flamingo is becoming increasingly rare." This statement is intended to..."

    "If the author wanted to paint a portrait, he or she would most likely use which kind of brush?"

    "The author's tone in this passage is best described as..."
  • An elevated vocabulary and breadth of native terminology
  • Our Vocabulary question types have been engineered for this purpose. In a vocabulary question, the reader is asked to infer the meaning of a specific word in the passage using context. Vocabulary questions may involve finding the best synonym, antonym, or definition of a word. In addition, they may involve understanding word groups, word parts, or how to properly apply the word in other, related contexts. Remember that, like all our reading comprehension questions, everything necessary to infer the meaning of a vocabulary word is included in the passage. We'll never require students to know the meaning of a vocabulary word absent the use of contextual clues.


    "As used in paragraph 5, the word noxious most nearly means..."

    "As used in paragraph 1, which is the best antonym for chaotic?"

    "Based on its use in paragraph 2, it can be inferred that the word deleterious belongs to which of the following word groups?"
  • An ability to synthesize disparate ideas into a cohesive whole
  • Students who use Read Theory are exposed to a large variety of written passages. At first, this may seem jarring. But we've found that after a few sessions, students begin to settle in. They come to view each passage through a lens that allows them to break down the text into pieces, anticipate questions, and view specifics as variables. In short, they begin to think critically. In time, it becomes natural for students to not simply read a passage, but to analyze it. And while the actual subject matter of a given passage may be interesting or intriguing, this absorption of knowledge becomes a byproduct of their learning.
Earn points and other motivational accolades.

We want our program to be fun. We also want it to be motivational. After all, this is the best way to accelerate learning. That's why we've implemented an array of game mechanics into our program. Read Theory students can become passionate about measurements such as their reading level, points, and quizzes passed. In our observations we've seen students lose a reading level after a poor performance and become determined to earn it back. We've also seen students compare points and teachers create contests for most points earned and quizzes passed. We are presently working on adding achievements badges to the site, which should be available soon.

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Upon student login, our system prompts him or her to select a starting reading difficulty level. Our system selects a quiz (a passage and questions) at random from the pool of available quizzes at that level. If the student passes a quiz (scores between 70% and 90%), it is never shown to that student again and the student remains at the same level. If the student performs poorly on the quiz (scores below 70%), then the quiz is replaced into the pool of available quizzes and the student's level decreases. If the student performs outstandingly on the quiz (scores 90% or more), then the quiz is never shown to that student again and the student's level increases.

Our reading levels are a relative measure designed to approximate U.S. grade school levels, developed by Read Theory to calibrate our reading comprehension lessons in terms of their overall difficulty. If a student is performing above or below his or her associated U.S. grade school level, then this is not necessarily an indication of superior or inferior reading ability. Our difficulty level labels (and analytics presented elsewhere in the site) are to be used as general guides, whereas parents and teachers should serve as ultimate judges of reading skill and ability.

Track progress and inform teaching strategies.

Read Theory fosters a dynamic classroom environment. Teachers who use our program gain the freedom to provide more individualized instruction, answering specific questions and providing in-depth instruction and explanation. What's more, we provide detailed reports so teachers can track student progress using statistics, graphs, and charts.

When you sign up as a teacher, you'll get access to a progress report containing the above statistics for each of your students. Keep in mind that on Read Theory, teachers don't supply/assign content. Rather, students are presented content by our system automatically, based on their score performance. You'll just need to have your students log in and they'll be prompted to begin our program. After they get started, you'll be able to track their performance on the progress page.

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When you create a parent or teacher account, you harness the power of Read Theory's unique class creation system. This allows you to...

  • Create a virtual class and populate it with your students
  • Our class creation process is straightforward and user friendly. We realize teachers have limited time to devote towards getting our program up and running. Our program has been designed with this in mind.
  • Manage usernames, passwords, and other important information to facilitate student login
  • New classes can be created and existing students can be added to your class in a matter of minutes. Your classes can be edited, or deleted entirely with just a few clicks.
  • Analyze student/class performance using percentages, bar graphs, and tables
  • Students and teachers gain access to powerful analytical statistic involving progress through our levels and performance on our reading comprehension question types. Students and teachers will also gain access to a precise history of quizzes and outcomes.
  • Grade written work and return to students with comments - Coming Soon!
  • Students who have been added to a class will gain the ability to complete short answer questions for each quiz they take. Each of our quizzes will contain 1-3 short answer questions that students can answer and submit to their teacher. Teachers can then review, grade, and provide individual comments to their answers and return them to students. We believe this will add tremendous value to our reading comprehension quizzes and allows students to engage in a unique writing process with their teachers.
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Support Our Program
"I'm so happy to have found your program. My students have made remarkable progress since we started. What's more, it's free!"
Carson A. - Durham, NC
It's our pleasure to see students and teachers benefiting from our program; your success stories are our biggest motivator. Our small team of writers and software engineers have put our hearts into making this the most helpful reading and writing platform available, and we'd love to continue doing so. We have big plans, but the truth is that this costs money, and we're running out. We've considered our options, and incorporating as a 501 (c)(3) Non-Profit is one of them. If you or someone you know would be interested in helping us sustain and grow our program, we encourage you to contact us and let us know. It's our dream to keep Read Theory free for all to use, forever. Your pledge of a tax-deductible donation could help make that dream a reality.
*Please remember that we are not accepting charitable donations at this time. Rather, we are accepting pledges, or promises of support, should we incorporate as a non-profit.
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